Pioneering conversational banking

Determined to put its customers and employees first, Rabobank invented a unique conversational banking strategy that’s believed to be a first in the Dutch financial services market. Now supporting over 15,000 users across more than 80 departments, its contact centre is significantly more resilient and agile running on the Genesys Cloud™ platform. The move has reduced cost and risk so the bank can deploy new departments, channels and features at will — speeding innovation to customers faster than its competitors.

Over $2.2 million saved

in hardware and IT staff costs

25% productivity gain

with asynchronous web messaging

45% of questions answered

by virtual assistants

90%+ customer satisfaction

for digital channels

Increased employee job enrichment

and personal growth

New features deployed

within days compared to four weeks before

Web messaging is 25% more efficient compared to call handling, meaning we can serve more customers without increasing headcount. And since introducing video calls we’ve seen a noticeable uplift in new mortgage sales.

— Thom Kokhuis, Head of Conversational Banking, Rabobank

Seeking to enhance the customer experience

Rabobank is on a mission to create a positive influence on people and society through financial services. The cooperative bank serves retail and corporate clients in the Netherlands, focusing on the global food and agriculture sectors. These operations comprise 89 local Rabobank branches, a central organisation and specialised international offices.

Consistently delivering an excellent customer experience is integral to its success. Yet disconnected on-premises products — including legacy Genesys and Cisco systems — meant its contact center teams couldn’t transfer contacts between branches, get a unified view of the customer or capture meaningful real-time data. Meanwhile, essential requirements like IP telephony, routing, reporting, voice recording and CRM system integration were getting more complex and harder to manage.

The bank had previously deployed live chat, as well as creating Nina, a chatbot built on Nuance artificial intelligence (AI) software. However, that solution operated in a siloed fashion. Security compliance was another concern and software releases from the previous supplier tended to contain bug fixes only — not impactful new features and functionality.

“We were seeing rising call and chat volumes, resulting in longer queues and wait times,” said Thom Kokhuis, Head of Conversational Banking at Rabobank. “Some of that traffic could be basic inquiries like checking balances, mortgage applications or reporting lost cards.”

Entering the matrix

Coupled with a company-wide cloud-first strategy, Rabobank has created a new conversational banking service model that runs on the Genesys Cloud platform.

“We wanted a partner with a native cloud solution built from the ground up, rather than an on-premises product repackaged for the cloud,” added Kokhuis. “One that leaned towards DevOps wizardry and rapid innovation with open APIs and a microservices architecture.”

A first for the Dutch financial services market, the new approach plots customer journeys on a matrix, with value to the customer on one axis and value to the bank on the other. For everyday matters, the bottom-left focus is “Time well saved.” Where human interactions are key for high impact, the top-right subject changes to “Time well spent.” Genesys Workforce Engagement Management ensures the bank always has the right human expertise in the right place at the right time.

“Conversational banking is about intelligently steering customers to the most suitable digital channels like our app, 24/7 virtual assistant, asynchronous messaging tool or instant video calls,” said Kokhuis. “Ensuring they move seamlessly and friction free between those channels is equally important.”

Seamlessly migrating over 80 departments

The first private banking units with 600 concurrent users went live within 88 days. Rabobank repeated the process across more than 80 departments across the organisation, successfully migrating all 15,000 advisors (5,000 front office and 10,000 back office or branch workers) within nine months — a feat accomplished in-house with minimal outside resources used.

“Throughout the project, we met our target of zero incidents, loss of features or customer service disruption,” said Kokhuis.

The bank has three principal customer channels: web messaging with a virtual assistant or live agent; voice, which has become a main channel since the COVID-19 pandemic began; and video with an empathetic role for customers making big financial decisions. Meanwhile, outbound communications proactively support marketing campaigns and security alerts.

Useful bot and video integration

Within a short time, Rabobank launched two virtual assistants running on Microsoft Power Virtual Agents that are integrated with Genesys Cloud via the Genesys Open Bot Connector; a new messaging channel to replace live chat; and 24sessions, a Genesys AppFoundry® Marketplace solution that enables agents to instantly send messages containing video call invites.

Rabobank team celebrating their 2022 Genesys Customer Innovation Award

“Our advisors can easily switch from a phone call or web messaging and escalate to a video conversation in a single click,” added Kokhuis. “We arrange around 15,000 video calls with customers each month, often for emotional life events such as buying a new house or dealing with a bereavement.”

Better matching, best experience

Personalisation and reducing customer effort are also top priorities for Rabobank. To facilitate more seamless repeat interactions — such as those between a customer and a mortgage advisor — the bank’s CRM system identifies the caller and routes them directly to the same person whenever possible.

Smart intent-based routing rules play a crucial role here. It determines where the customer conversation will be picked up and steers the customer to the best channel and most suitable advisor. Those rules detect factors like customer sentiment (using voice recognition analysis); current products and value; and cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. They also match contacts with wait times, skills and resources available at exactly the right moments.

Meeting customers where they are

The bank’s new cloud contact centre platform improves resilience and agility — significantly reducing cost and risk for the business, clients and employees. And Rabobank can easily onboard new departments and launch extra channels, features and services — enabling it to speed innovation to customers faster than its competitors.

“Web messaging is 25% more efficient compared to call handling, meaning we can serve more customers without increasing headcount,” said Kokhuis. “And since introducing video calls we’ve seen a noticeable uplift in new mortgage sales.”

Shifting from voice to digital-first conversational banking delivers greater convenience and improved customer experience. Virtual assistants never sleep and answer around 45% of all questions 24/7. Web messaging volumes have risen from 15% to 20% of all interactions. These improvements have delivered customer satisfaction rates of 90% and above for these digital channels.

Less effort, better engagement, happier employees

Moving to a single omnichannel solution has positively impacted the bank’s top and bottom lines and performance KPIs. Decommissioning on-premises systems provided annual savings of $750,000 on hardware and $1,500,000 on IT staff costs. Business changes like new features or routing policies can be delivered in days — compared to four weeks before.

“With asynchronous web messaging, we no longer have lengthy, hard-to-manage live chat queues as agents and customers can interact when the other party is offline,” said Kokhuis. “We’re also able to hold the customer’s place in the queue, reducing effort for them and us. And conversations can be easily resumed so they don’t have to start from scratch.”

Before, our advisors handed phone or live chat conversations in separate teams. We now offer phone and video calls, web messaging and self-service using AI-powered virtual agents. Voice is no longer our primary channel but is offered for high impact situations if a digital channel isn’t right.

— Thom Kokhuis , Head of Conversational Banking, Rabobank

Also, employees get a better experience. With more digital tools to help solve complex, emotional situations, advisors enjoy greater job enrichment. And they have greater control of their workloads and personal performance against targets.

“Before, our advisors handled phone or live chat conversations in separate teams,” concluded Kokhuis. “We now offer phone and video calls, web messaging and self-service using AI-powered virtual agents. Voice is no longer our primary channel but is offered for high-impact situations if a digital channel isn’t right.”

At a glance

Customer: Rabobank

Industry: Financial services

Location: The Netherlands with global operations

: Around 15,000 advisors


  • Migrate over 80 departments to the cloud
  • Build a conversational banking model
  • Match journeys to channels for highest impact